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Wild Strawberries (Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray]
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108 of 112 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
In this symbolic tale of an old man's journey from emotional isolation to a kind of personal renaissance, Ingmar Bergman explores in part his own past, and in doing so rewards us all with a tale of redemption and love.

Victor Sjostrom, then 80 years old, stars as Professor Isak Borg whose self-indulgent cynicism has left him isolated from others. Sjostrom, whose work goes back to the very beginning of the Swedish cinema in the silent film era, both as an actor and as a director, gives a brilliant and compelling performance. All the action of the film takes place in a single day with flashbacks and dream sequences to Borg's past as Borg wakes and goes on a journey to receive a "Jubilee Doctor" degree from the University of Lund. Bergman wrote that the idea for the film came upon him when he asked the question, "What if I could suddenly walk into my childhood?" He then imagined a film "about suddenly opening a door, emerging in reality, then turning a corner and entering another period of one's existence, and all the time the past is going on, alive."

Bibi Andersson plays both the Sara from Borg's childhood, the cousin he was to marry, and the hitchhiker Sara who with her two companions befriends him with warmth and affection. The key scene is when the ancient Borg in dreamscape comes upon the Sara of his childhood out gathering wild strawberries. Borg looks on (unnoticed of course) as his brother, the young Sigfrid, ravishes her with a kiss which she returns passionately; and, as the wild strawberries fall from her bowl onto her apron, staining it red, Borg experiences the pain of infidelity and heartbreak once again. Note that in English we speak of losing one's "cherry"; here the strawberries symbolize emotionally much the same thing for Sara. Later on in the film as the redemption comes, the present day Sara calls out to Borg that it is he that she really loves, always and forever. Borg waves her away from the balcony, yet we are greatly moved by her love, and we know how touched he is.

The two young men accompanying Sara can be seen as reincarnations of the serious and careful Isak Borg and the more carefree and daring Sigfrid. It is as though his life has returned to him as a theater in which the characters resemble those of his past; yet we are not clear in realizing whether the resemblance properly belongs in the old man's mind or is a synchronicity of time returned.

Memorable is Ingrid Thulin who plays Mariana, the wife of Borg's son who accompanies him on the auto trip to Lund. She begins with frank bitterness toward the old man but ends with love for him; and again we are emotionally moved at the transformation. What Bergman does so very well in this film is to make us experience forgiveness and the transformation of the human spirit from the negative emotions of jealousy and a cold indifference that is close to hate, to the redemption that comes with love and a renewal of the human spirit. In quiet agreement with this, but with the edge of realism fully intact, is the scene near the end when Borg asks his long time housekeeper and cook if they might not call one another by their first names. She responses that even at her age, a woman has her reputation to consider. Such a gentle comeuppance meshes well with, and serves as a foil for, all that has gone on before on this magical day in an old man's life.

See this for Bergman who was just then realizing his genius (The Seventh Seal was produced immediately before this film) and for Sjostrom who had the rare opportunity to return to film as an actor in a leading role many decades past his prime, and made the most of it with a flawless performance, his last major performance as he was to die three years later.
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48 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2002
Format: DVD
*** UPDATED JUL-27-2014 ***

Along with classics like "Ikiru", "Tokyo Story", and "Umberto D", the 1957 Swedish masterpiece "Wild Strawberries" is one of the greatest films about old age ever made. With Ingmar Bergman's lyrical and sensitive direction and Gunnar Fischer's fairly expressionistic black-and-white cinematography, the film tells the tale of an old man who reminisces about his past that is filled with loss, regrets, and loneliness. The film is in several respects similar to Federico Fellini's 1963 film "8 1/2". Both films open with a nightmare sequence, and mix dreams, flashbacks, and reality throughout the narrative. Both are about a lonely and disillusioned intellectual who embarks on a journey of self-examination. Both men in the films are haunted by the past and tormented by the present, and have to deal with unsettling issues about their lives, their work, and their beliefs. And both ultimately manage to reach some sort of emotional closure.

Criterion's Region-A Blu-ray release of "Wild Strawberries" looks stunningly beautiful, making Fischer's gorgeous deep-focus cinematography irresistible to look at. A new 2K transfer was made for this Blu-ray, yielding a nearly pristine picture, in its original 4:3 screen aspect ratio. The 2002 Criterion DVD edition (all-region NTSC) still holds its own, but the eleven-year-old print pales in comparison to the Blu-ray, especially in the presentation of high contrast and deep blacks, which the Blu-ray format is inherently a superior medium for presenting such elements.

Swedish dialogs in the film are supported by optional English subtitles, which look to be identical on both the Blu-ray and DVD. The DVD's subtitles are white letters with black borders. The Blu-ray's subtitles are also white letters, but with thinner, greyer borders, the same font used in all black-and-white Criterion Blu-rays that I have seen. Criterion should consider using a darker border to make the words easier to read against a light or mosaic background. The opening credits are in Swedish on the Blu-ray and DVD. Older viewers may recall that Criterion made a 1991 laserdisc that had English opening credits.

The Blu-ray does not carry over the DVD's picture gallery, which contains 30 or so production photos, actor portraits, and international posters for "Wild Strawberries".

The Blu-ray does retain the DVD's full-length audio commentary by film historian Peter Cowie (who also recorded a commentary for Criterion's "The Seventh Seal" DVD and Blu-ray). Cowie analyzes the film's characters, themes, and styles, and, with his experience as a Bergman biographer, is able to attribute many of the film's elements to details in Bergman's own life. The opening dream sequence, he says, shows Bergman's homage of German Expressionist films. And the character of Isak Borg is based not on Bergman's father as most would assume, but Bergman himself. Cowie also includes observant remarks such as those regarding Bergman's comedic touches and loathing of action scenes.

The Blu-ray also retains the DVD's 90-minute interview of Bergman recorded for Swedish TV in 1998. In the interview, the pensive 80-year-old director, like Isak Borg in his film, undergoes a profound self-examination of his own. He speaks candidly about his strict upbringing as a child, says how he wishes he were not famous, recalls bitterly his being arrested (and later acquitted) for tax offenses in 1976, and grieves over his wife's death in 1995.

The Blu-ray offers some new extras as well. There is a 4-minute "introduction" by Bergman, which is essentially an interview of the director done by Swedish documentarian Marie Nyreröd. Bergman mainly talks about how he was able to get veteran actor Victor Sjöström to appear in his film. This piece seems to be an excerpt, or perhaps an outtake, from the 2004 documentary made by Nyreröd called "Bergman Island" (available as a Criterion DVD).

Another new extra on the Blu-ray is a 16-minute on-the-set footage of the shooting of "Wild Strawberries". This 16mm footage was shot by Bergman himself, and so he does not appear in it. Shot in both B&W and color, this piece is also accompanied by a nice audio commentary by the archival film curator at the Swedish Film Institute, Jan Wengstrom, who mentions the silent classic "The Phantom Carriage" several times and is obviously a big admirer of the film and its director, Victor Sjöström, who plays the old man in "Wild Strawberries". "The Phantom Carriage" is also available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion.

All extras on the "Wild Strawberries" Blu-ray are presented in upconverted 1080i.

Criterion made a rare subtitle typo on the "Wild Strawberries" Blu-ray. After the brunch scene, one of Sara's dialogs reads, "But sometimes it sees [sic] to me that I'm a lot older than Isak." That word should be "seems", not "sees". The 2002 Criterion DVD shows it correctly.

*** MY ORIGINAL REVIEW OF THE 2002 CRITERION DVD, POSTED FEB-12-2002, IS BELOW ***

Bergman's WILD STRAWBERRIES is often accompanied by films like Kurosawa's IKIRU, Ozu's TOKYO STORY, and de Sica's UMBERTO D whenever great films about old age are discussed. In this DVD's audio commentary, film scholar Peter Cowie also adds the recent Cannes winner AN ETERNITY AND A DAY to the list of such films. But what Bergman's film resembles the most, in my opinion, is Fellini's 8 1/2. Both films open with an nightmare sequence, and audaciously mix dreams and reality throughout the course of the narrative. Both are about a lonely and disillusioned intellectual who embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Both men in the films are haunted by the past and tormented by the present, and have to deal with unsettling issues about their lives, their work, and their religions. And both ultimately manage to reach some sort of emotional closure. The two films differ, of course, mainly in the tone with which the director presents the subjects. Fellini's film is exhilarating, irreverent, and ironic, while Bergman's is sedate, gloomy, depressing...

There is nothing depressing, however, about the quality of the new Criterion DVD version of WILD STRAWBERRIES, which is yet another standard-setting release from the company that has been setting such standards for the past 18 years. The DVD's spotless video transfer -- the result of a new print and frame-by-frame digital cleanup -- has made the film look at least 40 years younger. It is a tremendous improvement over Criterion's laserdisc release in 1991 in that it looks much sharper, has much better contrast (evident in the stark photography used in the opening nightmare sequence), and much clearer details. The mono audio track has also gone through restoration, and it sounds much cleaner, stronger, and clearer. The original Swedish opening credit sequence has also been restored for this DVD (the LD has English credits). The DVD is all-region, with newly translated optional English subtitles.

In the audio commentary, Peter Cowie (who also recorded a commentary on the THE SEVENTH SEAL DVD) analyzes the film's characters, themes, and styles, and, with his experience as a Bergman biographer, is able to attribute many of the film's elements to details in Bergman's own life. The opening dream sequence, he says, shows Bergman's homage of German Expressionist films. And the character of Isak Borg is based not on Bergman's father as most would believe, but Bergman himself. Cowie also includes observant remarks such as those regarding Bergman's comedic touches and loathing of action scenes.

Other extras include 30 or so photos taken from the set of the film, and a 90-minute interview of Bergman recorded for Swedish TV in 1998. In the interview, the pensive 80-year-old director, like Isak Borg in his film, undergoes a profound self-examination of his own. He speaks candidly about his strict upbringing as a child, says how he wishes he were not famous, recalls bitterly his being arrested (and later acquitted) for tax offenses in 1976, and grieves over his wife's death in 1995. One gets the impression from this interview that he is (still) not quite a happy man. But of course, it is precisely his pessimistic view that has resulted in many of his great films. But one hopes that, like Isak Borg, he will eventually find the inner peace that will enable him to see the world, however gloomy it is, simply as it is.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on November 23, 1998
Format: VHS Tape
In Ingmar Berman's film masterpiece Smultronstallet (or `Wild Strawberries' B&W, 1957), the protagonist, an elderly professor who is facing death, has to come to face to face with a long life that has failed to answer the important questions. He is old now and faced with his own inadequacy and impotence.
Bergman introduces three young people into the drama to introduce life's most important question - that of the existence of God. The old man gives them a ride. One of the young men is thinking about becoming a parson; the other argues that God doesn't exist. The old man offers no opinion to the debate. He is silent, but it is a loud silence. It's a silence that reveals an amazing dimension of loss - the loss of year upon year of not coming to terms with this all-important question.
In one of the final scenes, Bergman masterfully closes in tight on the aged face of Professor Isak Borg (played by Victor Sjostrom). In that shot, we can see the whole universe in his eyes and all of its cares in the bags beneath them. Only Bergman could have directed that scene - only him. It makes Smultronstallet one of the most important films ever made. That one scene, better than any other that I know, captures `loss' on celluloid for all future generations to witness and have to deal with. If you see it, you may find yourself having to look away.
The imagery in Smultronstallet is unparalleled, except by Bergman's own Det Sjunde inseglrt (The Seventh Seal, 1957). Look for the handless watch, the corpse wagon, the sparseness of the first scene, the car windows turning to black - ominous signs are everywhere. Notice the clues that point to Bergman's existential philosophy (the twins write a song for a deaf man - as futile as Sisyphus' labor!) and the redemption themes (Izak pierces his hand as he looks into the window, or the line: "A doctor's first duty is to ask for forgiveness."). Notice also the outright defiance of the divine presence that he has bred into his son ("I will not be forced to live one day longer than I want to.").
Izak is ready to die, but it seems that, for him, life is more forbidding than death. He is a living corpse, dead already.
All of these factors conspire to create a film that is pure art, and one that gets richer with each repeated viewing. It is also ennobling and cathartic in the truest sense of the Greek drama - a warning to the men of ancient Greece to avoid the tragic flaw is the hero's undoing, and could be ours as well.
We are made to look hard at Izak. Do we like what we see? Have we answered the important question that he has not? If not, Izak is us. To quote a line from the film: "Is there no mercy?" The reply comes: "Don't ask me." I hope that all of us will fare better when confronted with this important question.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2013
Format: Blu-ray
Along with classics like "Ikiru", "Tokyo Story", and "Umberto D", the 1957 Swedish masterpiece "Wild Strawberries" is one of the greatest films about old age ever made. With Ingmar Bergman's lyrical and sensitive direction and Gunnar Fischer's fairly expressionistic black-and-white cinematography, the film tells the tale of an old man who reminisces about his past that is filled with loss, regrets, and loneliness. The film is in several respects similar to Federico Fellini's 1963 film "8 1/2". Both films open with a nightmare sequence, and mix dreams, flashbacks, and reality throughout the narrative. Both are about a lonely and disillusioned intellectual who embarks on a journey of self-examination. Both men in the films are haunted by the past and tormented by the present, and have to deal with unsettling issues about their lives, their work, and their beliefs. And both ultimately manage to reach some sort of emotional closure.

Criterion's Region-A Blu-ray release of "Wild Strawberries" looks stunningly beautiful, making Fischer's gorgeous deep-focus cinematography irresistible to look at. A new 2K transfer was made for this Blu-ray, yielding a nearly pristine picture, in its original 4:3 screen aspect ratio. The 2002 Criterion DVD edition (all-region NTSC) still holds its own, but the eleven-year-old print pales in comparison to the Blu-ray, especially in the presentation of high contrast and deep blacks, which the Blu-ray format is inherently a superior medium for presenting such elements.

Swedish dialogs in the film are supported by optional English subtitles, which look to be identical on both the Blu-ray and DVD (see postscript below for one exception). The DVD's subtitles are white letters with black borders. The Blu-ray's subtitles are also white letters, but with thinner, greyer borders, the same font used in all black-and-white Criterion Blu-rays that I have seen. Criterion should consider using a darker border to make the words easier to read against a light or mosaic background. The opening credits are in Swedish on the Blu-ray and DVD. Older viewers may recall that Criterion made a 1991 laserdisc that had English opening credits.

The Blu-ray does not carry over the DVD's picture gallery, which contains 30 or so production photos, actor portraits, and international posters for "Wild Strawberries".

The Blu-ray does retain the DVD's full-length audio commentary by film historian Peter Cowie (who also recorded a commentary for Criterion's "The Seventh Seal" DVD and Blu-ray). Cowie analyzes the film's characters, themes, and styles, and, with his experience as a Bergman biographer, is able to attribute many of the film's elements to details in Bergman's own life. The opening dream sequence, he says, shows Bergman's homage of German Expressionist films. And the character of Isak Borg is based not on Bergman's father as most would assume, but Bergman himself. Cowie also includes observant remarks such as those regarding Bergman's comedic touches and loathing of action scenes.

The Blu-ray also retains the DVD's 90-minute interview of Bergman recorded for Swedish TV in 1998. In the interview, the pensive 80-year-old director, like Isak Borg in his film, undergoes a profound self-examination of his own. He speaks candidly about his strict upbringing as a child, says how he wishes he were not famous, recalls bitterly his being arrested (and later acquitted) for tax offenses in 1976, and grieves over his wife's death in 1995.

The Blu-ray offers some new extras as well. There is a 4-minute "introduction" by Bergman, which is essentially an interview of the director done by Swedish documentarian Marie Nyreröd. Bergman mainly talks about how he was able to get veteran actor Victor Sjöström to appear in his film. This piece seems to be an excerpt, or perhaps an outtake, from the 2004 documentary made by Nyreröd called "Bergman Island" (available as a Criterion DVD).

Another new extra on the Blu-ray is a 16-minute on-the-set footage of the shooting of "Wild Strawberries". This 16mm footage was shot by Bergman himself, and so he does not appear in it. Shot in both B&W and color, this piece is also accompanied by a nice audio commentary by the archival film curator at the Swedish Film Institute, Jan Wengstrom, who mentions the silent classic "The Phantom Carriage" several times and is obviously a big admirer of the film and its director, Victor Sjöström, who plays the old man in "Wild Strawberries". "The Phantom Carriage" is also available on Blu-ray and DVD from Criterion.

All extras on the "Wild Strawberries" Blu-ray are presented in upconverted 1080i.

P.S. This is akin to a Bigfoot sighting: I discovered a subtitle typo on the "Wild Strawberries" Blu-ray. After the brunch scene, one of Sara's dialogs reads, "But sometimes it sees [sic] to me that I'm a lot older than Isak." That word should be "seems", not "sees". The 2002 Criterion DVD shows it correctly. This kind of error is quite uncharacteristic for Criterion, which has been in my belief the best publisher of movie discs for the past 30 years.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2002
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
Bergman is one of my favorite director and for my money, this is his best movie. I love the way he tells the story with narration and great dream and nightmare sequences. The wonderful thing is, it's a serious and dramatic film but also entertaining at the same time. Sometimes it moves slow (like the main character, a 78 year old professor) and it also moves faster when younger people are involve in the story. The great Victor Sjostrom gives such a superb human performance that you feel everything he's feeling and I think this is why I love this movie so much, he takes you with him on an emotionnal journey that you don't forget. Other strong points: the beautiful and touching performance of the daughter in law (Ingrid Thulin), the energetic performance of the beautiful young girl (Bibi Anderson), great photography, wonderful screenplay and the score is perfect. I heard often that Bergman made depressing movies, maybe they're not like the musicals of the 50's but I've seen a lot of his work and I don't find it depressing at all, if you watch and listen closely you will always find a message of hope somewhere.
Like Kurosawa, Fellini and Carné to name a few, his movies are great art full of symbolism and humanity, almost inexistant today in cinema. This is a must buy if you like this movie cause the transfer by Criterion is great and they give us a 90 minutes interview with Bergman (very serious but fascinating if you want to know more about the man). Also an audio commentary by Peter Cowie (who also did one on the seventh seal) and photos of the production.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2008
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
In 1975 my literature professor told us we were going to study the greatest movie ever made and it was about an old man driving an old car to receive an award for being a good doctor. Plus, instead of Technicolor, it was in black & white. On top of that, the film was in Swedish and I would have to read the English subtitles. But never fear, with the promise of such an exhilarating, action-packed movie, he planned on showing it twice in a row, and wagered all who attended the first screening would stay for the second. And he nailed it.

We began by reading the stage play, which is the same as the screenplay. Then we had a chance to see the film. I indeed watched both showings and it changed my thinking about what makes a good "film" (this was way too highbrow for my young self to call a movie, but now I think "movie" is the right word, because the action, plot and production are all so powerful, against all odds! This movie is a blockbuster!)

At the time I was a wild boy about campus who's taste for movies was more action/adventure, western and mystery/suspense. The funny thing about Wild Strawberries is there's a little of all those genre's in it (if you understand what a cowboy Bergman was at this point in his career).

This is the story about the late-life introspection of an elderly physician. It really appears on the surface to be about as dull a concept for a film as one could ever want to suffer through. But this is a story about facing reality, and reality is rarely dull. The plot moves seamlessly through many phases, but much of it involves a road trip through the Swedish countryside.

A few years ago I bought a DVD of the 70's cult car-chase flick "Vanishing Point"; I hadn't seen it since the drive-in in my college years. I also own a Criterion Collection copy of Wild Strawberries and I've watched both recently. I realized that Wild Strawberries is a car chase flick as well.

But Bergman's Isak (played by Victor Sjöström) is not running from war weariness but from a life of nihilism cloaked in the old-world respectability of a family doctor. The chase is his lifetime of self-certainty, agnosticism and increasing isolation finally catching up to him. He realizes that he has been a walking dead man for much of his life (something he partially inherited from his mother, and impacted all his close associations throughout his long and successful, but sad life). Getting too far into the details may yield spoilers, although there is enough complexity in this plot to keep literature classes struggling for an A for a long time.

The plot is a series of amazing dialogue scenes, with interruptions for disturbing dream sequences, most from his classic 1937 Packard Eight Touring limousine. The day's accumulation of insights, linking dreams, reverie and conversation gradually lead to a turning point, a crisis precipitated by unyielding reality checks that befuddle the normally unflappable Dr. Borg.

The ground-breaking dream sequences, the first early in the film, are Hitchcock-like and terrifyingly surreal (or was the early Hitch being Bergmanesque?). The dreams set the tone of tension in a film that could have so easily been a drone, but not with Bergman in charge. Of incredible beauty is the reverie scene, where Isak relives some of his childhood while making a stop at his family's deserted summer lake house.

The continuing, front-seat of the Packard dialog scenes between Isak and his daughter-in-law, and later with the Almans (including another disturbing dream sequence) and with the "children" (hitchhiking college-age kids) are all filled with symbols and conversation pointing to Isak's living-dead existence. As the day progresses, they chip away at Borg's long-held control, coldness and distance.

It's interesting that Bergman himself, at this point in his young career, was much like Isak; agnostic, distant, self-absorbed, incapable of intimacy. Yet his conclusion to Wild Strawberries is much more hopeful than Bergman's own life. One wonders if Bergman may have ended his life with a Wild Strawberries conversion, or if he considered it at the end.

The turning point of the movie, easy to miss if you're not paying close attention, is the love-promise from the young hitchhiker Sara (Bibi Andersson). This is the sea-change moment for Isak. The incredible sweetness and innocent passion, freely offered in grace by the beautiful young girl, serves as a regeneration moment, a freely-given justification of Isak, imputing her child-like passion and righteousness into his heart. In a way it was as though his childhood sweetheart (also named Sara, also played by Bibi) came back in her youthful beauty to heal the wound of rejection she inflicted on Isak almost 70 years earlier.

The first Sara's betrayal of young Isak (seen in the summer reverie scene), choosing his brother as the better lover and husband, probably led to Isak's walled-off life. But when this new Sara promises her Platonic, childlike love to the old Isak, he replies with solemn acceptance: "I'll remember that". This seems to break the spell of living death dealt to him by his first love, and exacerbated by so many others in his life.

Unlike Bergman, Isak closes his eyes that night with the hope of a life of meaning, of love in service, not just service as a foil for maintaining personal dignity and image. He sees that loving for loves sake is worth the risk of pain. Unlike Bergman, Isak has a hope of seeing God when his death does arrive, and has demonstrated a new life has begun. This is Isak's Today; his day of repentance, of stopping the tortuous task of hardening his heart against the call of life, yielding in submission to love, mercy and grace.

This film requires many viewings, and I have yet to tire of it. Bergman's troupe of actors were on par with the best of any generation, his cinematography is spartan and overwhelmingly effective; his location shooting in the beautiful Swedish summer is fascinatingly appealing, yielding a foreign, forgotten land yet with a "down-home" feeling that's almost Mayberry-like, if that's not too extreme a comparison.

This movie shows the dichotomy of living for self versus living in loving service to and with others. Isak thought he lived to serve but discovered that service is only of meaning to the server if it is from the heart. Service without love is only partial service to those in need, and is a self-inflicted affront to the server. This is ultimately a hopeful picture that we can all learn from if we watch with an open heart. Otherwise, we see the wasted tragedy of existential living with no greater good than one's own dead image.

Does YOUR watch have any hands?
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on January 22, 2003
Format: DVD
I am not going to summarize the plot. Amazon.com's editors do a good job of that.
I watched this, Wild Strawberries, right after viewing of The Seventh Seal. Both films have extremely strong visuals and both deal with similar themes--Bergman remains convinced that there is nothing beyond death and hence his characters are symbolizations of the director's existential angst. However, while the characters in The Seventh Seal are archetypal and theatrical, Isaac Borg is extremely human. He is real and so are his emotions and sentiments (with which Bergman so passionately sympathizes). This makes the film touching and Borg's failures and triumphs become our own.
There is another review of this film by a customer (Brian Ridge), which claims that the reason he liked the film is because he is (or was) a film major, which makes it difficult for the rest of the "mainstream" to like this movie. He is mistaken, Bergman's films were very well recieved by the American "mainstream." Indeed, it was Bergman who pioneered the American foreign film market.
Secondly, the films which he names as being similar to this one are, quite frankly, just some movies by major international directors--Bunuel, Bergman, Kubrick, Allen, Scorsese, etc. These are all great directors but that does not make their cinema "similar." Each had their own cinematic concerns. The only similarity between these directors is that one does not need a film degree to appreciate them!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
I need not repeat all the fine words of the previous writers, except to say I am grateful to Criterion for delivering the same crisp print I remember from years ago when WS was first available in the US. What a fine accomplishment. (Would that the company were to concentrate on historic preservation, as opposed to some of its recent dubious works.)

What I also admire in this DVD is the interview conducted by Jorg Donner. He so well draws out Ingmar Bergman on such a wide variety of issues that you come away with a marvelous intellectual and emotional portrait of the artist. What is more, you hear from the maestro's own mouth of the breadth of his own work during his nearing century --- over 50 films, countless theatrical and operatic productions, some 120, which continue to propel him in his advancing age.

Bergman may well be the Shakespeare of our own age, and Donner's drawing out helps you to realize this. As The Bard drew his English from the first Book of Common Prayer, so may Bergman be the artistic idiom from which not only some of the present filmmakers and writers receive their inspiration, but perhaps may well project into the future.........if writers and directors are wise. For just as Bergman struggled with the Svensk Filmindustri in his early development (just as did Kurosawa with the Japanese Film Institute), so must the present and next generation struggle to find meaning. Not that I am seeing much from them right now, you understand.....

Donner also helps us to see that Ingmar continues to be a work in progress, still growing and changing in aspect of mind and body, proving that the apogee is not met at some legislated retirement age. What a fine interview!

My mind's eye returns to the movie. Isn't it a marvel how Bergman develops his characters, especially the venerable Victor Sjostrom, and the simultaneous vulnerability and lyricism of the kids? What a sweet show.

This is filmmaking at its best, and restoration at its highest. I only regret that Amazon (the Greek of that word literally meaning "the breastless ones") prohibits me from giving more than five stars, five less than in my heart.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2001
Format: DVD
Ingmar Bergman is amazing as a filmmaker in the sense that he can create a complex movie using only three or four characters and a minimal number of ornately decorated sets. Wild Strawberries is no exception, telling the story of an aging doctor who to the city to receive an award from his university. On the way he goes through a metaphysical journey having dreams and nightmares (permeated by the ticking of clocks) that speak of the aging process, and he ventures into his son's life where he speaks to him of his failing marriage and attempts to offer him advice while at the same time opening up himself from his introverted and often unsociable ways. Throughout the film there are moving scenes that speak of the simple emotions one experiences in life: love, fear, a longing to put right a past we cannot return to. In one scene he attempts to console his daughter in law and understand what she and his son are going through while they sit in an old black car in the rain. For those of you who have enjoyed works such as The Seventh Seal and Cries and Whispers this film is certainly for you in terms of craft. But it also makes a much more accessible introduction to Bergman's work seeing as in Wild Strawberries there is much more humor accompanying the pathos than in any of those other films. It is truly a beautiful film and one that is certainly a necessity on DVD for collectors of great art.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2002
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
If you're a lover of classic foreign films like I am, you eagerly anticipate new DVD releases from the Criterion collection. Indeed, Wild Strawberries is reason enough to own a DVD player if you don't have one already. This beautifully enhanced, sharp copy includes an informative audio commentary track, as was featured on their DVD release of The Seventh Seal.
This DVD also contains a generous 90-minute interview with Bergman in which the major themes of his life and work are
discussed, interspersed with rare photos. The interview portion of this release is a film on its own and would be reason enough to own this DVD.
More rare photos are included in a stills gallery.
And then there's the film itself -- just as moving and inspiring an experience as when I first saw it in a film study course in high school years ago. Being able to own Wild Strawberries on DVD in all its intended cinematic glory is not just a real treat, but the evidence Bergman once yearned for, that
indeed, there is a God. For film lovers, anyway.
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